As debate begins following the release of President Donald Trump's budget proposal, there are two key elements that should please everyone, Townhall columnist Albert Downs wrote Monday.
First, the Trump budget calls for maintaining bipartisan spending caps, unlike budget plans put forth under former President Barack Obama, the article explained. Congress passed the Budget Control Act (BCA) in 2011 after the recession that set limits on how much money lawmakers could appropriate each year.
"President Trump's position represents a sharp contrast with President Obama, who pressured Congress into breaking the BCA caps for four of the five years after they were implemented," Downs wrote.
Second, the BCA allowed for unforeseeable or discretionary expenses, such as disaster response and other emergency funds. However, Congress has misused this capability sending "extra funding to favored programs without judging that spending against the rest of the nation's budget priorities." That accounted for more than $100 billion spent last year alone on the "off-budget" accounts.
Trump's budget would reduce spending on off-budget cap adjustments to $21 billion over five years. By doing this, lawmakers would once again debate policy priorities.
"This is likely to improve policy outcomes as congressional spending decisions will be subject to a meaningful accounting basis, forcing lawmakers to send taxpayer resources where they are most useful," Downs asserted.
Trump's budget offers "more fiscal responsibility than past White House budgets" as it sets out to reduce spending and rein in federal debt. The budget does not, however, fully address entitlement programs which account for a large portion of federal spending.
The budget, though, is a "a statement of goals of an administration and a justification of priorities" which lawmakers are under no obligation to consider.
"Disagreement over policy decisions are the sign of a healthy republic, as is the shared recognition of national fiscal challenges. Members of Congress in both parties would be well-served to begin their debate within the common-sense budget framework laid out by the Trump administration," Downs concluded.
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